International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation


adjustable prosthesis

A temporary prosthesis for either above-knee or below-knee amputation, in which the parts between the socket and the foot are made of metal and allow adjustments in all dimensions and directions including rotation. Once the optimal adjustments have been achieved during a sufficiently long period of trial and training, the prosthesis is placed in an alignment duplication jig for the replacement of the adjusted temporary segment by the permanent one.

Beaufort prosthesis

A jointed prosthesis constructed from leather and wooden splints for either the upper or lower limb. Introduced in 1867 by Comte de Beaufort.

bent-knee prosthesis

Prosthesis for a very short below-knee stump. It is fitted with the knee in slight flexion, and most of the weight is borne on the tibial tuberosity.

Canadian hip prosthesis

Prosthesis for hip disarticulation, above-knee amputation with very short stump, or hindquarter amputation (hemipelvectomy). Its hip joint is far anteriorly to the position of the anatomic joint. Named for the Department of Veterans Affairs of Canada, where it was originally devised in 1954.

conventional below-knee prosthesis

Prosthesis that includes a thigh corset attached to the leg piece by hinge joints.

early postsurgical prosthesis

A prosthesis for the lower limb, similar to an immediate postsurgical prosthesis, except that walking is initiated between 10 and 30 days after the amputation.

electronic prosthesis

A prosthesis, almost always for the upper limb, that operates electronically.


An artificial internal body part, which is implanted surgically. Examples: knee joint, vascular segment.

endoskeletal prosthesis

A limb prosthesis whose supporting structure (which may be articulated) is inside, as is the case in a human limb. In order to match the appearance of the normal limb, the endoskeleton is covered with an outside ("cosmetic") cover that does not need to be as rigid as in an exoskeletal prosthesis.

exoskeletal prosthesis

A limb prosthesis of the usual structure, in which the material that reproduces the shape of the normal limb serves at the same time as support. So called in order to differentiate it from the endoskeletal prosthesis.

extension prosthesis

Prosthesis that equalizes a limb deficient in its length as compared with its counterpart. It may also support abnormal joints such as found in congenital deformities.

external limb prosthesis

An artificial replacement of a limb or part of a limb. So called to exclude prostheses of other parts of the body (tooth, eye, breast) as well as inner parts of a limb (bone, joint).

fluid-controlled prosthesis

Prosthesis with hydraulic control. Most frequently it is a prosthesis with a hydraulic knee.

immediate postsurgical prosthesis

A prosthesis for the lower limb, the socket of which is applied to the stump immediately after the amputation or within the next few days. It has an alignment device for easy attachment and removal, and rigid support (usually of tubular metal) that ends in a foot-ankle assembly. The immediate use of the prosthesis with weightbearing and walking is believed to decrease edema and pain, helping in the patient's rehabilitation.

internal prosthesis

An artificial internal body part that is implanted surgically. Examples: femoral head, interphalangeal joint, cardiac valve. Also called endoprosthesis.

KBM prosthesis

The abbreviation stands for the German "Kondylen Bettung Münster," meaning "nestling of condyles, Münster," which refers to the city where the prosthesis was developed byt the orthopedic surgeon Götz Gerd Kuhn, about 1960. In the USA, this below-knee prosthesis is usually called supracondylar tibial prosthesis.

modular prosthesis

A prosthesis in which modules, i.e., commercially available, standardized, and interchangeable components, are used. These can be assembled and disassembled quickly and easily, for immediate postsurgical fitting for instance.

Munster prosthesis

Prosthesis for a very short below-elbow amputation stump with an intimately fitted suction socket extending above the condyles of the humerus. It eliminates the need for a harness or an intermediary slip socket. Developed in 1954 by Oscar Hepp, and Götz Gerd Kuhn, orthopedics surgeons in Münster, Germany.

myoelectric prosthesis

Prosthesis that uses the electric potentials generated by the contraction of intact muscles to move some of the parts of the prosthesis. Electrodes and microtransmitters carry impulses that are amplified by an electronic device. The use of myopotentials in a prosthesis was first published in 1948.

OHC prosthesis

Prosthesis with polycentric knee joint for knee disarticulation and long above-knee amputation. Developed at the Orthopedic Hospital, Copenhagen, whence the abbreviation.

patellar-tendon-bearing (PTB) prosthesis

A below-knee prosthesis made for weightbearing on the patellar ligament (patellar tendon). Other areas participate to a smaller extent in the bearing of the weight, notably the tibial condyles and the stump end. Only a small leather strap, the knee cuff or suprapatellar suspension strap, reaches above the knee, to hold the prosthesis in place. Developed in 1958 by the Biomechanics Laboratory of the University of California in Berkeley.

penile prosthesis

Contrary to its name, which would imply the replacement of a missing part, this is strictly speaking a penile splint, i.e., an orthosis providing rigidity to the penis. It may also be an inflatable implant.

permanent prosthesis

A prosthesis that after a trial period has been checked and found appropriate for the individual in its components, measurements, alignment, fit, functions, workmanship, and appearance.

pneumatic prosthesis

A prosthesis for the lower limb with an air-filled socket, usually in form of an air sac inserted into a socket. It is used as a temporary prosthesis.

PTB SC/SP prosthesis

Patellar-tendon-bearing prosthesis with supracondylar and suprapatellar suspension.

PTS prosthesis

Originally the abbreviation for the French "prothèse tibiale à emboîture supracondylienne", meaning below-knee prosthesis with supracondylar socket, developed in 1960 by Guy Fajal, prosthesist in Nancy, France. It has also come to stand for the English patellar-tendon supracondylar prosthesis. In the USA it is usually known as "supracondylar/suprapatellar prosthesis."

Seattle foot prosthesis

Developed in 1986, this prosthesis was designed to control and store energy available at heel strike and foot flat, releasing it during push off to increase the forward movement of the foot and eliminate "drop-off." use of this device allows single- or double-foot amputees to run and engage in other sports.

self-contained prosthesis

A prosthesis, essentially for below-elbow amputations, that contains a battery and other components, thus not requiring a harness.

skeletal prosthesis

Endoskeletal prosthesis that hast not as yet received its cosmetic cover.

step-in prosthesis

Prosthesis for a phocomelic lower limb that is too short or in another way unfit for walking. Thus, although the limb may include a foot, it is fitted with a prosthesis into which it steps. Hence its name.

supracondylar/suprapatellar (SC/SP) prosthesis

A variant of the patellar-tendon-bearing prosthesis. Its socket extends in front, medially, and laterally, so as to fully encompass the patella and both femoral condyles, thereby obviating the need for a suspension strap. The higher socket increases knee stability, which is particularly valuable if the knee is unstable or the stump is short.

swimming prosthesis

A lower-limb prosthesis that can be used for swimming as well as for walking, being impervious to water.

Syme prosthesis

Prosthesis for Syme amputation, an amputation of the foot and the two malleoli. This type of amputation was developed by James Syme (1799-1870), Scottish surgeon.

temporary prosthesis

Any variety of prostheses of a relatively simple type for the upper or lower limb. It is used in order to assess the physical and psychological capacities of the amputee for an artificial limb, to help him or her in getting accustomed to one, and to hasten the shrinkage of the stump, before deciding on a permanent prosthesis. Particular types of temporary prostheses are the adjustable prosthesis and the immediate postsurgical prosthesis.

visual prosthesis

Artificial eye that conveys visual images, e.g., with the aid of a miniature television camera.

voice prosthesis

A device designed to restore speech after laryngectomy. A type developed in 1979 by otolaryngologist Mark I. Singer and speech pathologist Eric D. Blom in Indianapolis consists of a silicone tube introduced through the tracheostoma into a surgically created tracheoesophageal fistula. Air from the trachea enters the esophagus through a one-way valve that prevents aspiration. This air is used for phonation.


Eisenberg MG. 1995. Dictionary of Rehabilitation. New York: Springer Publishing Company. 375 p. Used with permission.

Further reading

Related encyclopedia entries: Prosthetics, Prosthetics: Foot and Ankle Prosthetics, Sexuality and Spinal Cord Injury

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